02/17/2006 12:00AM

10 herpes cases at Fair Hill


Ten horses based at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland have tested positive for equine herpesvirus, the highly contagious disease that has proven difficult to contain in the state since an outbreak early in January.

None of the horses is showing any clinical signs of the disease, which attacks a horse's upper respiratory and neurological systems, according to officials with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the training center. The horses are all stabled in one barn at the training center.

Sally Goswell, the manager of Fair Hill, said Friday that the barn has been quarantined but that the 27 horses in it who did not test positive will be allowed to train after all other horses at the facility have conducted their exercises. In addition, none of the horses in the affected barn will be allowed to leave the facility for at least three weeks, and Fair Hill is not allowing any horses to ship into the training center, Goswell said.

Fair Hill has scheduled a meeting on Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. to address questions from local trainers about equine herpesvirus, Goswell said. Veterinarians from Kentucky and Maryland have been invited to give presentations, she said.

Equine herpesvirus was first detected in a horse at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore in early January. Additional cases then appeared at Pimlico's sister track, Laurel, and at a farm in Kent County. The outbreak has led to restrictions on the movement of horses along the Eastern seaboard.

The latest results from Fair Hill have already had an impact on New York, where a prohibition on horses shipping in from Maryland has been extended for at least another three weeks, according to Dr. Tony Verderosa, the New York state veterinarian.

"We're not accepting any horse from a Maryland address," Verderosa said.

At Pimlico on Friday, agriculture officials lifted a hold order on a barn that had been under restriction because of the herpes outbreak. The hold order on the barn was the last remaining at Pimlico, which was under a general quarantine until Feb. 8. The horses in the barn will now be allowed to ship to Laurel in order to race.